What Do You Wish You'd Known?

Discussion in 'Elementary Education' started by misstee, Jul 26, 2012.

  1. misstee

    misstee Rookie

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    Jul 26, 2012

    Hi Everyone!

    I interviewed for my first teaching position (after filling out countless applications) on Monday morning and was offered the job that afternoon! I am SO excited.

    I was just curious if everyone could drop a line (or paragraph) to fill me in a little bit on what you wish someone would've told you about teaching in general, your first year, your classroom - just teaching!

    Also - How important is it to have a theme? I have so many things I want to do in my room, but I see things so black and white that I'm having a hard time trying to get the entire picture in my head...I guess I just need to take a step back? :unsure:

    Thanks for any and all comments/tips!
     
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  3. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    Jul 27, 2012

    You definitely do not have to have a theme.

    If you are organized, that will make your year much easier.

    Any specific concerns?
     
  4. DrivingPigeon

    DrivingPigeon Phenom

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    Jul 27, 2012

    Congrats!

    Out of 24 classroom teachers in my school, I am the only one with a theme (I have a color theme). So, it really is not important at all.

    I wish I had known more about intervention and how to help struggling students. I feel like I learned nothing about this in college. I knew nothing about the process of identifying a student who may need extra help, or may need to be referred for SPED. Of course, I knew there would be struggling students in my classroom, but I was not prepared for learners who were an entire grade level (or more) below where they should be. Just make sure you identify and monitor those students early on, and be sure to ask for help from others.
     
  5. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

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  6. KinderCowgirl

    KinderCowgirl Phenom

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    Jul 27, 2012

    DP-I struggle with that as well, especially when you feel like you've tried many different strategies and they still aren't learning.

    I came across this blog the other day and thought it was a great collection of advice. Many different blogs linked up to share their "wisdom" for new teachers.

    http://fabulouslyfirst.blogspot.com/2012/07/teachers-wisdom.html
     
  7. queenie

    queenie Groupie

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    Jul 27, 2012

    Four things I remember specifically learning from my first year of teaching:

    1) Classroom Management- kids make choices and you honor those choices. No lecture or raising of the voice needed. Just give the consequence their behavior requires and move on. Clean slate.

    2) Don't be afraid to ask for help when you don't understand something. Even seasoned teachers ask questions!

    3) Work smarter, not harder. Don't spend all your time on work. If you go in early and stay late, set a limit for yourself. Don't go in more than half an hour early or stay later than an hour late unless you're working on something that MUST be ready TODAY. Don't spend time planning that you should be spending with the people you love. Do the most important things first and stay organized to help cut down on work.

    4) Don't be afraid or ashamed to toss practice papers in file 13 when you're overwhelmed. Every single thing doesn't have to get a grade. You can check for completion or just toss a paper every once in a while without it being a big deal.
     
  8. bandnerdtx

    bandnerdtx Aficionado

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    Jul 27, 2012

    I love the way you worded this, Queenie. I use the phrase "natural consequences" a lot, but I like this better.

    To the OP, don't stress about a "theme" and your room decorations much this year. You'll probably be surprised at how much stuff is given to you by older staff members when you go up there to start setting up! Just focus on how you're going to manage your day and curriculum and the rest will fall in to place.
     
  9. Ted

    Ted Habitué

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    Jul 27, 2012

    Misstee, first of all...congratulations! :) That's a great feeling, isn't it? :)

    I guess I wish I knew then (what I now know): when a parent comes with a concern (even if it's harshly shared)... do your best to keep in mind that they are just looking out for their child's best interest. Don't take it personally (although it's easier said than done). And sometimes parents just want to be heard and that the best way to let a heated conversation end is to say nothing. Ending with "I truly appreciate your input on this situation and will take it into consideration. Should I change my mind, based on this new insight, I will most definitely let you know."

    Also... for me, it made a difference when I started having the parents addressing me as Mr. _____________ rather than "Ted". I would also address them by their last names. It kept it professional a lot easier. Although this point really is personal preference. It's a 50/50 thing at my school. Some teachers like the familiarity of first names with their students' parents and some prefer the more formal last name approach. Do what feels right for you.

    Lastly, (and maybe most importantly) - every now and then just sit back and watch your kids as they work/play/read/share ideas. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in deadlines, papers to grade, and copies to make, that we forget why we REALLY became teachers... to educate young minds. It's okay to take time to marvel at the little sponges filling up those seats. :)

    And remember that you're joined the ranks of one of the noblest professions. Be proud of that and never feel less than 110% worthy of it. :)
     
  10. Rabbitt

    Rabbitt Connoisseur

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    Jul 27, 2012

    Your classroom management will be strong if you start off tough. It's easier to back off later.

    Themes are more for appearance and parents. If you have time, go for it.

    You must put yourself first! You need to eat right, exercise, sleep, and have a life. If you have this, you will be a happier teacher.

    Good shoes!
     
  11. Rabbitt

    Rabbitt Connoisseur

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    Jul 27, 2012

    I keep a box at school full of emergency supplies for myself!
    Tylenol, popcorn & granola bars, umbrella, spare car key, spare shoes, feminine products, contact supplies, my old prescription glasses, gloves, sunscreen, needle and thread, tide to go, nail clipper, etc. I go to this box more often than not!

    spare snow boots

    I keep a sweater on the back of my chair.

    Be friends with the secretary and janitor!

    Hot glue is my duct tape...fixes LOTS
     
  12. MsG

    MsG Companion

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    Jul 27, 2012

    Everything everyone has shared here is wonderful advice. BE FLEXIBLE! Things won't work like you think it will. Roll with it.

    One of the biggest things that helps me stay sane is to keep the weekend for myself. Friday afternoon-Sunday afternoon are mine, no school work. Sunday evening I will prepare for the week, but the rest of the time is school-free.
     
  13. agdamity

    agdamity Fanatic

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    Jul 27, 2012

    It will be up to you to ask questions for things you don't know. Often times the veteran teachers forget that the new ones don't understand or know about the "hidden" rules of the school, or even the way certain things are done (ie, the P says a form is due on x date, but really they always want it before that date, etc.)
     
  14. Maryhf

    Maryhf Connoisseur

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    Jul 27, 2012

    This is SO true! You will soon figure out which teachers welcome the questions that you may think are simple. Just ask! It's also a good way to make friends.
     
  15. leighbball

    leighbball Virtuoso

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    Jul 27, 2012

    First off, CONGRATULATIONS!!!! I agree with a lot of what was said so far!

    * Stay organized! I have a bin for each day of the week and one labeled "next week". As I copy things, I put them in the bin. I always try to copy everything for the following week by Thursday. Keeps me from running around like crazy. I also try to finish my lesson plans by Thursday of the previous week.

    * Stay flexible! Assemblies will ruin your plans, fire drills will be unexpected, kids will get sick, etc. Stay flexible and now that things will get done at some point.

    * Model, model, model. Never assume kids know what you want them to do. Model, model, model!

    * Contact parents about good things too! Establishing a good relationship will soften the blows if you have to call about something bad.

    * Make friends with support staff. :)

    * Enjoy it! It's an amazing profession to be in, and you need to remember to enjoy the kids.

    * Finally, spend time on all of your kids...not just the ones who apparently want your attention through negative behavior. And find a classroom management strategy that works for you and stick with it. Be consistent!
     
  16. MrsHoot

    MrsHoot Comrade

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    Jul 27, 2012

    Lots of great advice...

    DO NOT expect yourself to be perfect at everything, because you won't live up to your own standards. It is expected that you will need help and have areas to work on.

    Use your teammates as resources, it will make your life a lot easier!

    Keep an open communication with parents, especially when their student is struggling and document, document, document!!

    Enjoy your first year, it will go by fast!
     
  17. leighbball

    leighbball Virtuoso

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    Jul 27, 2012

    So true!!!
     
  18. misstee

    misstee Rookie

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    Jul 28, 2012

    Wow! Thanks everyone for the input!

    teacherintexas - I guess my biggest concern is the curriculum - mainly reading groups and math groups. I know this will all come with practice but I guess I need more to be comfortable with it. Tips?


    THANK YOU ALL for the input -these are things that I wouldn't have thought of! I appreciate it! :)
     
  19. leighbball

    leighbball Virtuoso

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    Jul 28, 2012

    Reading and math groups can be tricky if you don't feel confident, but it gets easier. Asking questions and going over the material in advance are must-dos! Do some research on the type of program your school uses (reader's workshop, guided reading, balanced literacy, etc) to gain a general understanding. And of course, ask questions here :D
     
  20. Rebel1

    Rebel1 Connoisseur

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    Jul 28, 2012

    C'grats Mistee!:)
    You are going to have so MUCH fun!
    Here are some tips...
    -First impression is VERY important!
    Put your foot down from the beginning and let them know that you are not a push over.
    -Show them that you care, love them, and you are there to make a BIG positive difference.
    -Be firm and use your nice tone of voice..(Well! Most of the time:D)
    -Be consistent with your classroom rules; you can have them participate in making them
    -Treat them with respect and NO favorites!
    -Stay on top of your communication with the office, the parents, and the children
    -Have a POSITIVE reinforcement chart, IF you need to use it
    -Take care of #1... YOU... If you do, then you will be healthy, happy, you will enjoy your career as an educator, and you and your class with have the BEST FUN!
    -Make music a part of your cirriculum. It can make a big positive difference in your learning atmosphere.
    -Be flexible and have some chants that you can use for transitioning
    (Here is one that I use to get their attention... You: "1, 2, 3...eyes on me!" The children: "1, 2, eyes on you!" Short, simple, and to the point.) You can clap as you say it.:cool:
    -Remember this..."The more you correct, the less you connect!"
    -Last, but now the least...These are our future team players and leaders! Make a copy of the GOLDEN RULE and pin it on the wall. Read it with them every single day! It can make a BIG positive impression, and difference with the way the children act and react.:hugs:
    Good luck, and keep us posted.
    Rebel1
    -
     
  21. mctx1

    mctx1 Rookie

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    Jul 28, 2012

    I'm a first year teacher too, so I really appreciate all the advice too! Great thread!
     
  22. pwhatley

    pwhatley Maven

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    Jul 28, 2012

    The absolute best advice I can give any new teacher (from experience) is to bookmark and religiously post questions and read the forums on AtoZ! I'll be 50 in a couple of weeks, but I'm just entering my 5th year of teaching. My first year (at a horrible school, with a horrible admin, etc.) almost killed me. What helped me survive? A VERY understanding hubby, a lot of prayer, & AtoZ!!
     
  23. imanashhole

    imanashhole Companion

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    Jul 31, 2012

    I am very hard on myself, and countless people have told me during my first two years of teaching that I need to go easier on myself. I would say don't expect perfection and embrace your mistakes...you will learn from them. I am trying to take this advice myself!
     
  24. MissScrimmage

    MissScrimmage Aficionado

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    Aug 1, 2012

    * Mr. Clean Magic Erasers solve so many problems

    * LOVE your kids. They are yours for only 10 months, so cherish them and give them as much as you can.

    * No one will judge you for asking. You aren't supposed to know it all, ever, so ask, ask, ask.

    * Don't worry if your room feels bare right now. Once the kids come you can work on decorating together. You'll be amazed at how much you can accumulate in 10 months.

    * Before you spend your hard earned money on something for your classroom, see if your school already has what you need. Once I started asking around for specifics, I found out most teachers are more than happy to share things. Just make sure you return whatever you borrow!

    * Take some chances. It's the only year you can play the rookie card!

    * Keep an ongoing notebook of things you would change for next year. I keep a word document saved to my desktop and whenever I think of something I do a quick bullet point so I have a running list all year. In a few weeks I'll open it up to remind myself of the changes I want to make.

    * Get ready! You are in for the most incredible year of your life! I had an awesome first year!! You will work harder than you have ever worked before, but it is SO rewarding!
     
  25. BumbleB

    BumbleB Habitué

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    Aug 1, 2012

    I wish someone would have told me that the first year of teaching is the most challenging obstacle you will face. You will feel lost, hopeless and like a failure many times. Your kids won't thank you or show appreciation nearly as many times as they did in your "teaching fantasies" that you had during your college years. You'll pour your heart and soul into a lesson, work hours on tiny details that you know your students will "just love", only to receive scowls and choruses of "this is SOOOO boring!" when you finally present it to the class. Teaching can be so defeating, and it will be a struggle every day to keep your confidence up.

    But there will be little moments that keep you going. A fabulous review here, a laugh shared with a coworker there. Eventually, you will make it through the year. Eventually, you will see progress in your students (and yourself). By the end of the year, you will feel so good about yourself for accomplishing such a large task. And after a not-long-enough summer vacation, you will actually be excited to go back and do it all again! :)
     
  26. teacherintexas

    teacherintexas Maven

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    Aug 1, 2012

    If you still have time before your year starts, read The Daily Five, Cafe and Debbie Diller books.

    You have to start slowly with the kids in order to get them trained for the year so you don't have to walk in on the first day with fabulous stations and small group lessons, but the more prep you do now, even if it is just making lists of what you do want to do, will help make your year easier.
     
  27. Croissant

    Croissant Comrade

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    Aug 2, 2012

    All of my education professors constantly told us to journal. Keep a spiral of things that worked, things that didn't, ideas for next time, and your overall feeling/experiences. Last year was my first year and I just didn't feel like I had time for that. Now, entering my second year, I'm kicking myself for not following their advice. Keep a notebook! (Random sticky notes don't count.)
     

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